By Student Assistant Sara Vierra '15
Chantelle Wilder recently moved to California from Hawai'i to pursue a career in coaching cross country. Starting off coaching girls cross country at Los Gatos High School, Wilder is now in her second year of coaching at the collegiate level at Santa Clara University as an assistant coach with Bronco cross country and track. SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) sat down with Wilder to learn more about the history of her love for cross country and how she has demonstrated her enthusiasm in her coaching tactics with Bronco student-athletes. Wilder talks about how she thrived on the thrill of racing from a very young age, and shares how it has carried on throughout her education and onward into her career.
SCU: At what age did you discover that you enjoyed running?
CW: In my hometown of London, Ontario, cross country is part of the elementary school curriculum and all students must race once per year. I quickly realized that the 1km training run before lunch was becoming the highlight of my day--racing boys was cool!
SCU: Was running always a "competitive sport" for you, or did you initially begin running as a hobby?
CW: Yes, it has always been competitive! My older brother won the sixth grade division race when we were in elementary school, and I wasn't one for sharing the glory or attention--so I decided it was time I start winning some races too.
SCU: Have you always planned on pursuing a career that revolves around the sport you compete in? Or was their something else that you intended on doing?
CW: After graduating with a Masters Degree is in Higher Education, with an emphasis on College Student Development, I knew that I wanted to stay on campus working with students--I wasn't particularly set on working with student-athletes. During my graduate studies I was coaching at the high school level and realized that perhaps the field of collegiate coaching would allow me to continue my involvement with running while working with college students. I see myself as another motivated SCU staff member looking to make the lives of the students easier and more fun!
SCU: Was the transition from Hawai'i to California difficult?
CW: Leaving behind fantastic friends and the warmth of the aloha spirit was difficult but California, especially SCU, has been very welcoming. My auntie from the island still sends me my favorite energy bars in the mail!
CW: Becoming a part of the SCU cross country/track program has been an incredible blessing. I look forward to my daily interactions with the student-athletes and head coach Felipe Montoro has been an excellent mentor. I believe in the program we are building and couldn't be more proud of the progress we have made over the 2011-2012 season. Go BRONCOS!
SCU: Was it difficult for you to go from competing in collegiate cross-country to coaching it?
CW: I coached at the high school level for four seasons prior to moving up to the collegiate level and had some excellent mentors along the way--including the former 5000m American record holder Duncan Macdonald.
SCU: Would you like to compete in more international competitions such as that in Jordan?
CW:Yes, my main goal for my personal running is to compete again donning the red and white Canada singlet--an honor like no other.
SCU: Is your husband a runner as well?
CW: Robbie played baseball in college and prefers to run no longer than the 90 feet required to get from base to base--that being said he has accepted a challenge to run a minimum of 2 miles for 300 of the 365 days in 2012. So far he is doing well.
SCU: Was there ever a point in your life that you were torn between cross country and another sport?
CW: Despite my tiny stature I was quite the baller in elementary and high school.